James Gandolfini's Death From Heart Trouble at 51 a Sign of the Times

Doctors say more middle-aged Americans suffer cardiac problems, and they're often due to unhealthy lifestyles

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People who take steps to improve their heart health through diet and exercise will enjoy immediate benefits, even if they continue to have risk factors such as obesity or diabetes, said Dr. Jeffrey Berger, director of cardiovascular thrombosis at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

"There's really nice data that if you are obese and you exercise, you do well," Berger said. "If you eat well and you exercise, your risk is not that of an obese person or even a normal weight person who doesn't do that," he added.

"We have such a tremendous influence on how likely or unlikely we are to develop a cardiovascular disease or have a cardiovascular event," he continued. "Unfortunately, we don't realize how much control we have."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a number of things that people can do to reduce their risk of heart trouble, including:

  • Eat a healthy diet,
  • Maintain a healthy weight,
  • Exercise regularly,
  • Don't smoke, and limit alcohol consumption,
  • Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol,
  • Manage your diabetes and take your heart medications.
  • More information

    For more on heart health, visit the American Heart Association.

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